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Northwestern’s boys cross country team was building toward last season for years. And in 2019 it finally began to catch up to the Tiger girls program.

While Northwestern’s girls team has been one of the most dominant in the Colonial League and District 11 for almost two decades, the boys team had been working toward ascending into the upper echelon for a few years. Last year the Tiger boys team earned its first district title since 2013.

It is still unknown if large events like leagues, districts and states will be held in 2020, but the Tigers are ready to run against any team that is willing to face them this season.

“Our teams have been training hard and they have been running well together,” said head coach Chris Stitzel. “Both teams are solid again. Only lost one senior on varsity on each team, so both teams are young and strong and they’re ready to go.”

Stitzel is excited about the boys’ prospects for 2020 with experience and depth as two of the squads biggest strengths.

“My top senior last year was my No. 6 or 7 runner, so I’ve got my top five back,” he said. “And they’ve been pounding out these workouts. They’ve been working hard together and have been making sure they’re training together every day, really strong.”

Matt Santana, Sam Bower, Cole Chukoskie, Nate Vincent and Joe Chukoskie will likely be the Tigers’ top five this season. RJ Zack will also be in the mix.

“And then I have a couple of middle school guys that also moved up, so they might be in the mix,” said Stitzel.

The veteran head coach is hoping the boys can continue their success and start a run similar to the one the girls have been on recently.

Northwestern also has 28 middle school runners combined between boys and girls. Between high school and middle school, the Tigers have over 65 kids in the program.

PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Cole Chukoskie wa Northwestern's top boys runner at districts last fall with a 14th-place finish.